HARVARD – After 34 years in business, the Harvard Retirement Home will close its doors in the spring.
Harvard residents Bill and Kathy Schack opened the home in the early 1980s and have seen between 225 and 250 residents. Both had extensive experience working with elderly individuals – Kathy Schack as a nurse with the Five Hospital Homebound Elderly program, and Bill Schack as a social worker with United Charities.
The duo noticed that clients they served often would have to go to nursing homes before that level of care was needed. They saw an opportunity to fill that gap and decided to open their own center, Kathy Schack said.
“We’d come home at night and talk about all these poor people that had to be placed in nursing homes because they were alone with no support,” she said. “At the time, there wasn’t anything in between. … We just kind of made it up as we went along. We serve meals, do their laundry and help them with what they need in daily living.”
The decision to close the 16-bed facility was a tough one, but after three decades, it’s time to retire, she said.
“We’ve been doing this a long time,” Kathy Schack said. “We’re running out of steam.”
The site currently houses 10 residents and operates with a staff of about six, not including the owners. The small facility has fostered a tight-knit community, Bill Schack said.
“We’re kind of like a big family here,” he said. “We love the place, and it’s been a difficult decision to make to close.”
The historic home – built in 1866 – is one of Harvard’s oldest buildings and has served numerous functions over the years. A church, a movie theater, an opera house, the former Harvard Memorial Hospital and a nursing home have operated out of the property over the course of its life, the couple said.
Now it’s time for someone else’s dream to live on at the site. The family plans to put the house on the market in the summer, Kathy Schack said.
“This was our dream,” she said. “I think someone else is going to come along with another dream and, hopefully, do just as well as we did. We haven’t gotten wealthy with this, but we’ve enjoyed it. It’s been what we wanted to do.”